In collaboration with Dr. Frank Durso in Georgia Tech's School of Psychology and human factors researchers at the FAA, Scott Robertson at IMTC has developed the NextGen air traffic control simulator which is used in human factors research and controller training. The NextGen simulator uses a 3D game engine (Unity3D) and a physics library (PhysX) to model simplified, but realistic airplane flight characteristics. The NextGen simulator includes extensive UI interaction recording, playback and query functions to facilitate measurement of situational awareness and task performance.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is planning one of the greatest human-technical projects undertaken by the United States since Kennedy’s space race of the 1960s. In an effort to address the anticipated increase in air traffic, the FAA has proposed a multifaceted plan, called NextGen, which will change virtually every aspect of air travel.
The primary goal of NextGen is to improve the safety and efficiency of future air transportation operations. The changes brought about by NextGen impact the National Airspace System (NAS) and its operation, from nomenclature to what it means to be an air traffic controller. Many of these changes can be informed by consideration of human factors issues. One example is the NextGen proposal to establish Trajectory Based Operations (TBO) in which the Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) would not “control” traffic as is done by today’s air traffic controllers. Instead, planes will be equipped to self-separate and to fly precisely determined 4-dimensional trajectories from departure through arrival. The ANSP will thus be involved in a variety of monitoring activities.